Joe Dumars Q&A - February 16, 2011

Joe Dumars still has moves to make to facilitate the Pistons' transition to a younger core.
Allen Einstein/NBAE/Getty Images
Pistons president Joe Dumars sat down with editor Keith Langlois on Tuesday to discuss an array of issues, from Dennis Rodman to the pending trade deadline to the progress of the team’s young players. Here’s Part I of their conversation.

KEITH LANGLOIS: Joe, let’s start today with a non-Pistons topic. Jerry Sloan resigned as Utah’s coach last week. He started there not long after you entered the NBA as a player. I know from talking to you over the years how much you’ve admired the discipline and the preparation his teams always displayed. What are your memories of Jerry Sloan?

JOE DUMARS: He was one of my favorite coaches in the league since I’ve been in the league. Disciplined, tough, had a system, they acquired the type of players that could play in his system and they had tremendous success with Jerry Sloan. He has been one of my favorite coaches for the last 20 years.

KL: Another story from last week. The Pistons announced that Dennis Rodman’s number would be retired. To fans under 30 who don’t remember what he was all about, they might look at the stats and wonder if he was really that good. Talk about the impact he had on your Pistons teams.

JD: First of all, it’s a very well-deserved honor for him to have his number retired. He was certainly one of the all-time great Pistons. A two-time world champion here, two-time Defensive Player of the Year and an integral part of what we did here, the success we had. He is truly the only player that I know that not only could guard all five positions, but did, and did it as one of the best in the game to do it. He guarded Magic Johnson, he guarded Hakeem Olajuwon, he guarded David Robinson, he guarded Karl Malone, he guarded Michael Jordan, he guarded Bird. He guarded ones, twos, threes, fours and fives. I can’t think of anybody else who did that, and not only did it but was great at it.

KL: He might have guarded more Hall of Famers than anyone in history.

JD: Absolutely. And if you go back and look at it, I’m telling you, Rodman was just incredible.

KL: When you think about the NBA game and guys who didn’t need the ball in their hands to dominate, Dennis Rodman and Ben Wallace would be on anybody’s short list, wouldn’t they?

JD: I think they’re two of the top five guys who have ever done it like that. Great, great players, who didn’t need the ball, never had plays called for them and dominated play and had a tremendous impact in the game.

KL: He was a rookie in your second year. What were your first impressions of Rodman when he came to training camp that year?

JD: My second year I knew him as Debra Rodman’s little brother. Rodman’s older sister, who I knew, played at Louisiana Tech. She was an All-American there and he was just her little brother. And I knew her from way back in college and I knew that was her little brother and when he came, I was like, “Oh, that’s Debra’s little brother.” So that’s how I knew Dennis Rodman – Debra’s little brother.

KL: What were your impressions when he first got out on the court and started running around?

JD: Incredible athlete. Incredible energy. The kind of guy who is going to help you win a lot of games. Just a unique, different, incredible individual to play with.

KL: Did you guys know that about him right away? A lot of veterans on that team, not easily impressed.

JD: Immediately. Because Dennis did stuff on the court that nobody else could do and wanted to do. Dennis was diving over chairs and sliding all over the floor and running balls down – the guy was truly just incredible.

KL: Let’s switch gears to the trade deadline, a little over a week away. What’s your approach this year? You’re sitting kind of on the fringe of playoff contention. Do you go into it trying to better the team to make a run this year?

JD: Absolutely. The approach should never change. The approach is, man, if we can make a deal that can help us make a push these last 25 games, let’s do it. Let’s go for it. That’s how we’re going to approach it. That’s how we’ve always approached it and we’ll look at it no differently. If there’s something out there that we say this could help bring our team together or give us a push, that’s what we’ll do.

KL: Let me ask kind of the reverse. There are probably GMs out there, maybe some sitting ahead of you in the standings, who also want to make a push. If they were to call and propose a trade that probably wouldn’t help you this year but might improve your future, is that a deal you would consider?

JD: If it improves our future, yes. What it has to do is either give you an immediate push or really brighten your future. It has to be one or the other. If it’s not one of those two, it probably won’t make sense for you.

KL: But you’re open to either one?

JD: You have to be open to either one.

KL: There’s been a lot of talk about what the impending expiration of the collective bargaining agreement will do to the mood at the trade deadline. Do you have any sense of that yet or does it just seem like another year?

JD: I think it’s looming, but people are still trying to make good basketball deals. I’m not sure how other people internally are dealing with it, but I do know that the conversations I have, people are still trying to better their teams. I haven’t been hearing a lot of talk about it from other teams.

KL: Does it seem like the volume of traffic in phone calls is typical for you at this time of year? Are you hopeful of making a trade?

JD: The phone calls are probably the same. I can’t tell you – it’s hard to tell you how serious someone else is about making a trade. It’s just hard to say. I can’t sit here – I really can’t; I wish I could – and tell you how motivated someone else is to make a trade.